Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SPORTS >> Derby injury ends Archarcharch’s career

Leader sports editor

It was a disappointing Kentucky Derby for the locally-owned Archarcharch.

But the colt is going to at least have a comfortable retirement.

Archarcharch, the Arkansas Derby winner, suffered a fracture to his left front leg during the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday and finished 15th in the 19-horse field.

Archarcharch had surgery Sunday and will remain in Kentucky for at least a month, owner Bob Yagos said.

“He’s doing great; I just talked to the clinic,” Yagos said Monday from the auto salvage yard he operates in Jacksonville.

“He’s putting pressure on all four. He walked his stall and he’s eating up everything.”

Yagos said Archarcharch would stay at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital at Lexington, Ky., for another day or two at least, then he would be transported back to Churchill Downs and spend at least a month with trainer Jinks Fires.

After that, Archarcharch will be put out to stud, and Yagos said based on the colt’s reputation and conformation, he has offers from 18 stud farms in Florida, California and Kentucky.

Archarcharch, who had two screws inserted in his ankle, could race again, but not at the same level and would therefore have more value as a stud.

“He’s got a good future still,” Yagos said.

Animal Kingdom, in his first race on dirt and with an unfamiliar jockey, took the lead with 1/16th of a mile to go and edged Nehro by 2 3/4 lengths to win the $2 million race.

Archarcharch, owned by Yagos and his wife Val, was in the difficult No. 1 post position and was bumped coming out of the starting gate, then jockey Jon Court’s saddle slipped and Archarcharch was bumped again.

He remained near the back of the pack for most of the race, though he passed a couple of tiring horses before he hit the wire at the finish. But Courtwas already pulling him up in the final yards to avoid more serious injury.

“In the final sixteenth of a mile he was just gimping a bit,” Court said. “He was walking on it but he just wasn’t comfortable.”

An ambulance was brought onto the track immediately after the Derby ended and Archarcharch walked up the ramp on his own, leading observers to comment at the time that his injury did not appear life threatening.

“They got a splint on it and he walked onto the ambulance under his own power,” said track veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage, who performed Archarcharch’s surgery Sunday.

X-rays taken at Archarcharch’s barn following the Derby revealed the fracture.

“It looks like he’ll have a complete recovery,” Bob Yagos said.

The horses undergo extensive pre-race physicals before being cleared to run.

“You can turn your ankle in a football game,” Bramlage said. “He didn’t show any lameness until after he started running.”

Archarcharch beat Nehro, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby, by a neck in the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Odds had Aracharcharch anywhere from a 10-1 to 13-1 shot before he went off at 9-1 as one of only five horses in the entire Derby field that had single-digit odds.

But Archarcharch drew the difficult rail spot. A dozen horses have fought out of the inside position to win before, but not since Ferdinand in 1986.

“We could see he wasn’t stretching out,” Yagos said. “So we could tell something was wrong.”

Animal Kingdom, who had run once on turf and three times on a synthetic surface, won in 2:02.04. Mucho Macho Man was third.